Death toll rises after torrential rains cause mudslides in Brazil mountain town near Rio
Tuesday 19 March 2013
About 16 people have been killed in mudslides triggered by torrential rains in a mountain town north of Rio de Janeiro, state officials said.
A month's worth of rain - about 14in - fell in 24 hours in Petropolis, a Brazilian town of around 300,000 nestled in mountains about 40 miles north of Rio, where floods killed more than 900 people two years ago.
Meteorologists are forecasting more rain in the coming days.
The death toll has been creeping steadily up, with the head of the state's emergency response unit saying at least 13 people were killed. Officials have warned that the death toll could rise.
Earlier in the day, Rio de Janeiro state's secretary for civil defence, Sergio Simoes, told the Globo television network that the victims included two emergency responders.
The network broadcast images of Petropolis's streets transformed into rivers of muddy, waist-deep waters, houses crushed beneath mud and detritus and roads blocked by fallen trees.
Mudslides are a constant hazard during the Southern Hemisphere's summer, which often brings torrential rain and heavy flooding, but the state has made improvements in preparing for the rainy season that might have already saved lives.
Warning sirens installed in Petropolis after the deadly 2011 floods were activated this time around, allowing many residents of the at-risk zones to escape to safer areas in time.
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